Book clubs across the country are reading The Pages in Between, a memoir written by author Erin Einhorn. Einhorn’s book focuses on the journey she took to Poland to meet the family who hid her mother from the Nazis. Recently we spoke with Einhorn about her work and the process of exploring her own family history.
Q: What inspired you to write The Pages in Between?
A: Writing this book was never something that I set out to do. I moved to Poland in search of my mother’s story and my own history. I never expected the story to take on a life of its own. I never imagined that the “characters” from my family folklore had lived on, that they would have real needs and concerns in the present, or that I would be swept so dramatically into their tale. In the end, I had no choice but to write this book. In fact, it largely wrote itself.
Q: What advice would you give to others who want to explore their own family history?
A: Start today! The biggest surprise I encountered when I set off to
investigate my family story was how much I was able to discover. I
once thought that much of the past had been buried or lost, but while there are many mysteries that I may never be able to solve, I uncovered countless treasures – including many that had been sitting on shelves for decades just waiting for me to find them!
Q. Why should the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors tell their stories?
A: Because we’re what’s left. There are no survivors still living in my family. Soon, there will be no one alive who can talk about life in the Jewish cities of Eastern Europe. The task of remembering these lost societies will soon fall entirely to those of us who can gather shreds of details in documents and interviews. Our generations are also blessed with a distance that our parents and grandparents didn’t have. My grandfather’s memoir, if he’d written one, would have been the agonizing account of a man who saw unspeakable violence and lost nearly everything. My mother’s memoir would have been about her starting from scratch, about obliterating painful memory as though it never existed. My story can be somewhere in the middle – a bridge between legacy and the future, a story grounded in where we are today, where we’ve come from and where we’re going.